Oro Valley residents voiced their concern over the potential rezoning of the Kai-Capri area from commercial use to multi-family residential use during a public hearing held by the Town Council on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Paradigm Land Design—the rezoning applicant—is requesting the town increase the number of permitted residential dwellings near First Avenue and Tangerine Road from 255 units to 394 units within the existing parcel that is designated neighborhood/commercial/office use (NCO). The applicant is also requesting the town amend the Kai-Capri Special Area Policies in the General Plan, which currently designates the area for C-1 commercial use zoning, to R6 multi-family residential zoning use on the surrounding 13.44 acres outside the NCO area.
R-6 multi-family residential use allows for high-density housing, such as apartments, rental casitas, townhomes, single-family homes and senior care facilities to be constructed at the proposed site.
“This downzoning makes sense for many reasons. We provided market analysis to show why the existing zoning is less viable and wouldn’t provide much economic benefit to the community,” Paradigm Land Design owner Paul Oland said during a presentation before the public hearing. “Also, we’re showing that the proposed uses are very viable and on the flipside, do provide an economic benefit to the community.”
Members of the public spoke out during the public hearing about the potential traffic congestion due to overcrowding to the Kai-Capri area they had hoped would be a commercial corridor for the existing residents.
Oro Valley resident Jack Stinnett said he opposes the zoning change because the area has already increased in residential density over the past five years and the current problems will be exacerbated if they add more high-density housing. He said he believes the only people who will benefit from the rezoning is the property owner and developers—not the town’s residents.
“Replacing the commercial zoning at First Avenue and Tangerine Road with high-density residential will make the situation worse, especially at the dangerous intersection of First and Tangerine,” said Stinnett. “The town has a desire to provide diverse housing options, but we do not need to add 1,200 apartments to accomplish this.”
Stinnet also said adding more multi-family residential is counterintuitive to the town’s overall business growth objectives. Rosa Dailey, who lives near the First and Tangerine area, said she is apprehensive about the proposed zoning changes because it would be the end to any future commercial development in that space as designated in the General Plan. While she does say the current commercial development satisfies the needs of her community now, Dailey doesn’t believe it would be sustainable with increased residential development.
“I don’t believe high-density housing is going to create any better business opportunities for the retail that is there,” Dailey said during the public hearing. “It would detract from the ability to develop a commercial corridor where it belongs. As Oro Valley matures into a business district, this will be a prime piece of commercial real estate.”
Shirl Lamonna questioned why the town bothers making a General Plan in the first place if council members are going to amend it routinely.
“The General Plan was only approved in 2016 and we’ve already had a number of plan amendments and rezoning that resulted in roughly 1,500 homes, some of which aren’t even built yet,” Lamonna said. “What’s the point of a plan if we keep changing it?”
All eight Oro Valley residents who spoke during the public hearing were against future R-6 residential zoning to the Kai-Capri area.
Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Perry spoke in support of rezoning to help support the businesses in the area he said are struggling due to low population density. Perry used the recent announcement of corporate retailer Big Lots closing their store’s doors at the Oro Valley Marketplace this month to illustrate why rezoning is needed.
“There are many reasons why Big Lots is going to close, but I would suggest fundamentally Big Lots does not have enough customers to run a viable retail business in this space,” Perry said. “Apartments and other denser uses in the densely impacted corridor of Tangerine Road could be a part of the answer of maintaining the retail base in our community.”
After the public hearing closed, Oland addressed resident’s concerns by echoing Perry’s position on why the rezoning changes should be made. The applicant said the town designated too much land for commercial use in this area during the early 2000s.
“The amount of commercial that was designated at this corner is excessive and 15 years ago, there was a lot of undeveloped land in this part of Oro Valley,” Oland said. “Oro Valley tends to develop at a lower suburban density and as Mr. Perry pointed out, that’s not enough to support the amount of acreage of commercial land we have in Oro Valley.”
The town held the public hearing during a special meeting on Wednesday to satisfy a state law requirement in which all Type 1 General Plan amendments must have a public hearing hosted by the municipality during the same calendar year the proposed change was submitted. The council was unable to take any action on the matter during the meeting
The next scheduled public hearing on the matter is Wednesday, Jan 6, where the council is expected to deliberate after comments and potentially take action.